Filtration company Sogefi Group solidifies its positioning among an electric vehicle revolution.
Grappling with the complexities of the machinery under the hood of a car is beyond some people’s comprehension. Most us will pay a premium for repairs when failure occurs, even if the repair is not significantly challenging.
However, specialty part and auto industry manufacturers are committed to ensuring that failure is as nonexistent as possible, with appropriate and regular maintenance. In a marketplace regulated by strict policies and a demanding public, industry giants must ensure that every part in a finished vehicle is of the highest quality.
In many applications, however, what the market offers isn’t innovative enough for the solution the manufacturer wants to provide. In these instances, manufacturers pursue partners who can jointly design, test, and create a new, and often fully customized, product that performs better than any before it.
Sogefi Group is a partner that many of the biggest auto manufacturers in the business rely on for solutions. The company’s suspension, air and cooling, and filtration business units collectively make up a global company with decades of experience and client loyalty to the brand.
Sebastien Mucherie joined Sogefi in 2008 and today is its general manager of the Filtration business unit for North America, which set down its roots in 2004.
“I was looking for an opportunity in the auto industry that had international roots,” he shared. “Sogefi Group’s international HQ was near Paris, so I was able to interact with Europe in my role.”
A blended strategy of acquisitions—like the purchase of Mark IV—and organic growth have contributed to the company’s rapid expansion in North America. This, in turn, has yielded production facilities in Prichard, West Virginia, Monterrey, Mexico, and Montreal, Canada. Through its growth state-side, Sogefi Group and its filtration division has paired its nimble collaborative strategies with some of the best and biggest companies in the industry.
Sogefi’s filtration division is a big player in the auto marketplace. The company’s partnerships with industry giants like Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) demonstrate the level of expertise the company maintains.
The organization supplies Ford with its low-pressure diesel fuel system for its medium and heavy-duty applications. However, Sogefi did not just manufacture a run-of-the-mill filter for this application: it set an entirely new standard.
“Typically, filters are cylindrical for diesel filtration,” said Mucherie. “But to package it better and make it easier to meet crash requirements, Ford asked for a flat filter—think of the rectangular filter in your air conditioner at home, for instance.”
Ford and Sogefi jointly developed the only flat filter in the industry, earning a patent for the design. This is a prime example of Sogefi understanding its customers’ needs, being proactive in creating a solution, and overcoming industry challenges through a close relationship between respective development teams.
The company’s project with FCA in 2012 also illustrates its drive and ability to collaborate, leading to a revolutionized oil system for FCA’s new engine.
“Fiat originally had some challenges with the first supplier it selected at the time of development. We’re historically good partners with Fiat, and so they [FCA] came to us to help develop a more economical solution and bring some performance improvements to the original solution.”
These innovative filtration solutions don’t just happen overnight, however. Mucherie shared that it can take around three years to go from initial concept to production. Not every solution is tailor made, either.
“When there is no specific challenge to overcome, customers are more interested in economical solutions,” he said. “Most engines, however, require custom solutions.”
Sogefi’s capabilities means the company is able to work with car manufacturers to provide standardized, economical solutions, the company’s expertise ensures that Sogefi can also develop innovative, tailor-made solutions.
What About Electric Cars?
Developing incredible solutions to the many challenging issues car manufacturers encounter is par for the course for Sogefi, however a different potential roadblock is on the horizon: electric cars. Although there is some talk of moving towards 100 percent electric vehicles in the future, Mucherie isn’t so convinced.
“There are some doubts when it comes to that,” he said. “I don’t see the future being one solution in terms of powertrain for vehicles—some will choose small combustion engines, some will choose fuel cells, some will find their fit with hybrids, and some in 100 percent electric.”
Mucherie did acknowledge that the looming technological prowess of electric engines had put some developments on hold until the industry chooses its next direction. But most new engines released today meet the current environmental standards, regardless of the vehicle’s power source. If the market started trending towards 100 percent electric vehicles, several filtration applications would not be needed.
“What stays is cabin air filters that are part of the air conditioning system,” Mucherie clarified. “Cabin filters protect passengers from outside pollution. They will get more efficient, become key to the cabin experience, and get smarter.”
There are other filtration applications outside of the cab and engine as well—applications with fuel cells, for example—and Sogefi is already actively working on developing creative solutions for these areas.
“It’ll shift some product lines, and force manufacturers to think outside the box. But there’s a bright future in this space.”
The challenge, then, comes from the evolution of OEMs: will manufacturers be able to market themselves as organizations that are looking at electrifying their lineups? Sogefi Group is already actively exploring the possibility and starting to adapt product lines to fit. The question isn’t whether Sogefi Group will acclimate, but whether its competitors will weather the unpredictable conditions.
Sogefi produces a comprehensive range of filter products including oil, petrol, diesel fuel, air and cabin air filters for the Original Equipment and Original Equipment Spares markets, and the Independent Aftermarket. Moreover, Sogefi manufactures complete filtration modules as ‘first-time fit‘ for Original Equipment Manufacturers of motorcycles, three-wheelers, cars and heavy duty vehicles - applications for which Sogefi has developed extensive expertise.
Over many years, Sogefi has introduced major technological innovations in its filtration systems.
One of Sogefi’s more recent innovations is Diesel3Tech™ technology, which employs three filtering layers; considerably improving the protection of modern diesel fuel injection systems.
Sogefi has also recently started the production of a new engine oil filtration module whereby the metal casting has been replaced with plastic. This new technology, which builds on existing ECO designs, achieves higher reliability levels with lower environmental impact thanks to its lighter weight and more eco-friendly raw materials.